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Israel-Hamas war: Hundreds leave Gaza via reopened crossing

Published November 12, 2023last updated November 12, 2023

Several hundred foreign nationals and some injured Palestinians have been allowed to leave through the Rafah crossing. Meanwhile, al-Shifa Hospital staff have reported continued fighting nearby. DW has the latest.

A Russian emergency worker waits on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing
The Rafah border crossing into Egypt has reopened after temporarily being closedImage: Russia Emergencies Ministry/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Fighting around al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza intensifies
  • Germany announces increase in aid to Palestinian Territories

  • Several hundred people have been allowed to leave Gaza through the reopened Rafah border crossing

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he opposes an 'immediate cease-fire'

Skip next section EU concerned about humanitarian crisis in Gaza
November 12, 2023

EU concerned about humanitarian crisis in Gaza

The European Union condemned Hamas for using "hospitals and civilians as human shields" in Gaza, while also urging Israel to show "maximum restraint" to protect civilians during its military operations in Gaza.

"The EU is gravely concerned about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"The EU condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas," Borrell said, adding that civilians must be allowed to leave the combat zone.

The EU emphasized that hospitals must be protected and supplied immediately with the most urgent medical supplies. "In this context, we urge Israel to exercise maximum restraint to ensure the protection of civilians," Borrell said.

"The EU joins calls for immediate pauses in hostilities and the establishment of humanitarian corridors," he added. 

In a statement, the EU also re-emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself "in line with international law and international humanitarian law" and reiterated its call on Hamas for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

Skip next section Gaza hospitals run out of fuel as fighting intensifies
November 12, 2023

Gaza hospitals run out of fuel as fighting intensifies

Two major hospitals in northern Gaza closed to new patients on Sunday, staff said.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said the al-Shifa Hospital's last generator ran out on Saturday as fighting intensified around the compound into Sunday.

"The situation in al-Shifa is catastrophic," doctor Mohammad Zaqut told the AFP news agency.

Israeli military spokesperson Richard Hecht said on Sunday the army had left 300 liters (634 pints) of fuel near al-Shifa Hospital overnight to power an emergency generator for newborn incubators. He said the fuel was not taken.

The hospital's director, Mohammad Abu Salmiya, told journalists that 300 liters was enough to power its generators for "no more than a quarter of an hour." 

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that they had lost contact with their staff at al-Shifa — the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent said the al-Quds Hospital is "no longer operational" due to a lack of generator fuel.

"The hospital has been left to fend for itself under ongoing Israeli bombardment, posing severe risks to the medical staff, patients and displaced civilians," it added. Israel has denied bombing hospitals.

Alyona Synenko, a spokesperson for the International Red Cross (ICRC) in Jerusalem, told DW that the conditions in the south of Gaza are "supposed to be better" but that the medical facilities there were still "facing enormous challenges."

"Every day they are receiving new patients, patients with severe wounds, a lot of burns, and they're running out of a lot of essential supplies, like gauze, like anesthetics," she said, adding that many young children were among them.

Red Cross: Gaza hospital situation 'extremely heartbreaking'

Skip next section Netanyahu says military pressure could lead to hostage deal
November 12, 2023

Netanyahu says military pressure could lead to hostage deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel's army could strike a deal with the Islamist group Hamas to release some of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

"We heard that there was an impending deal of this kind or of that kind and then we learned that it was all hokum," Netanyahu said in an interview on US television program "Meet the Press."

"But the minute we started the ground operation, that began to change."

Netanyahu said only military pressure could lead to a deal with Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the US, the EU, Germany and others.

"There could be [an agreement], but I think the less I say about it, the more I increase the chances it materializes," he added.

Reuters reported earlier in the day that Hamas had suspended hostage negotiations due to the situation at al-Shifa Hospital, citing a Palestinian official who had been briefed on the hostage talks. This could not be independently verified.

Skip next section Save the Children's Palestine director tells DW Gaza hospital patients are at risk
November 12, 2023

Save the Children's Palestine director tells DW Gaza hospital patients are at risk

Save the Children's director in the West Bank, Jason Lee, condemned the "humanitarian crisis" at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Sunday.

"We've had confirmed reports of two babies that have died this morning, that were in incubators. And there's 37 other babies at Al-Shifa hospital that are at risk," Lee told DW.

"It is critical, critical, that there is an immediate cease-fire. This is the only way to protect civilians, especially those that are still trapped. And they’re trapped in hospitals, in schools, with nowhere safe to go."

Lee also expressed doubt over the Israeli plan to evacuate babies out of the hospital, which he said would be a "difficult" task.

"The risk of civilians being injured and killed is incredibly high," he said.

"All sides, all sides, have to meet their obligations under international law and protect the civilians, especially children."

Fighting intensifies around Gaza's hospitals

Skip next section Germany's Scholz opposes 'immediate cease-fire'
November 12, 2023

Germany's Scholz opposes 'immediate cease-fire'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has expressed his opposition to an "immediate cease-fire" in Gaza, instead repeating German calls for "humanitarian pauses."

"I freely admit that I don't think the calls for an immediate cease-fire or long pause — which would amount to the same thing — are right because that would mean ultimately that Israel leaves Hamas the possibility of recovering and obtaining new missiles," he said in a debate organized by the German regional daily Heilbronner Stimme.

Germany abstained on a UN vote on October 26 calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

He also repeated calls, made by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Saturday while visiting the West Bank and Israel, that Israel's response to the Hamas attacks must be in accordance with "international humanitarian law" and that there should be "no attacks by settlers against the Palestinian population in the West Bank."

"Our goal must now be that, after all the terrible things that have happened there and the suffering of the Palestinian citizens due to Hamas holding them as hostages, there is then a perspective that makes a two-state solution possible: Israel and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but then maybe for the best without Hamas," Scholz said.

International calls for cease-fire in Gaza grow louder

Skip next section IDF says it did not 'target civilians' at al-Shifa Hospital
November 12, 2023

IDF says it did not 'target civilians' at al-Shifa Hospital

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has denied any responsibility regarding reports by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) that people fleeing the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza were shot at.

"We are not targeting civilians, we are targeting Hamas. Anyone coming out with no intention of harming anyone will not be targeted by us. Sadly, we've seen Hamas also targeting people trying to move south and their own civilians," Richard Hecht, the international spokesperson of the IDF, told DW on Sunday.

Hecht reiterated Israeli claims that the al-Shifa Hospital is the "main hub of Hamas activity," where Hamas militants are hiding "within and also underneath the hospital."  Marwan Abu Sada, the head of surgery at al-Shifa Hospital, told DW that this is a "complete lie."Israel has not provided evidence to support these claims.

Hecht also said he was unaware of reports by an MSF surgeon who said that four patients within the hospital were shot by sniper fire.

"I can tell you without knowing the details, there is no way the IDF sniper would shoot a patient in the hospital… This is not how we operate," he said.

Hecht also reiterated the IDF's calls for civilians in Gaza to relocate south, and described the situation facing hospital patients as a "bottleneck."

"We've opened these humanitarian corridors. We've done tactical pauses in neighborhoods to allow people to move," he said.

"Sadly, as we've closed in, we've come to a sort of bottleneck with the hospitals. We're trying to solve it."

Skip next section Number of people leaving Gaza reaches the hundreds
November 12, 2023

Number of people leaving Gaza reaches the hundreds

The number of people crossing from Gaza to Egypt at the reopened Rafah border crossing on Sunday has reached the hundreds, according to officials.

A border official on the Palestinian side told Germany's DPA news agency that around 800 people had crossed at Rafah.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian security source told the AFP news agency that "500 foreign nationals from 15 different countries entered Egypt."

Russia's emergency services said 70 of its citizens were among those who crossed the border on Sunday, while the head of Poland's National Bureau of Security told Reuters that 18 Polish nationals also crossed the border.

A number of injured Palestinians also crossed into Egypt.

Egypt has previously stated that it does not want Palestinians in Gaza to cross the border because it fears a new wave of permanent migration. There are also fears that Palestinians who leave Gaza will not be allowed to return.

Why Egypt and Jordan don't want Palestinian refugees

Skip next section Israel strikes southern Lebanon after Hezbollah attack
November 12, 2023

Israel strikes southern Lebanon after Hezbollah attack

Israeli forces struck a number of targets in southern Lebanon on Sunday, officials said, after an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon wounded several Israeli civilians.

The Israeli army said the anti-tank missile struck near the village of Dovev, just half a mile (800 meters) from the border with Lebanon.

In response, Israeli "fighter jets struck a number of Hezbollah terror targets" including "military infrastructure used by Hezbollah to direct its terrorist activity," the army said.

The Israel Electric Corporation also said that the missile from Lebanon had "hit employees" who were in Dovev to repair power lines that had been damaged by previous attacks.

Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the initial missile strike.

Hezbollah said it launched guided missiles against an Israeli team installing what it called "eavesdropping and spying devices" near the Dovev barracks.

Israel, as well as the US and other Western countries, have repeatedly warned Hezbollah not to get involved in the Gaza conflict. On Saturday Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said: "What we are doing in Gaza, we can do in Beirut."

Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries. The EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

Skip next section IDF announces new windows for southward evacuation
November 12, 2023

IDF announces new windows for southward evacuation

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have announced new evacuation windows for Gaza residents to move southward, via a road that stretches from the northern border of the strip to its south.

IDF Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said on social media the Salahuddin road would be open for "safe humanitarian passage, either by cars or on foot" from 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) until 4 p.m.

"Do not give in to Hamas. Your continuous presence in the region subjects you to grave danger," Adraee said.

He also announced a "temporary, tactical halt to military activities" in areas of northern Gaza including Jabalia, where a refugee camp has been under intensified attacks in recent weeks. The pause would be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the spokesperson said, urging residents to use this time to evacuate southward.

Adraee also said a safe corridor would be opened directly from the stricken Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's biggest hospital. The facility has been surrounded by the Israeli army, and has reportedly been left without electricity. Staff at the hospital said it has come under fire, which Israel denies.

The spokesperson said that hundreds of thousands of residents have already moved south "via the safe humanitarian passage." Media outlets have reported that Israeli attacks have also occurred in southern Gaza. The Hamas-run Health Ministry has reported thousands of deaths in the south.

Skip next section Rafah border crossing reopens for injured, foreigners evacuation
November 12, 2023

Rafah border crossing reopens for injured, foreigners evacuation

The Rafah border crossing has reopened for the evacuation of dozens of foreign nationals and injured Palestinians from the besieged and bombarded Gaza Strip into Egypt, media reported on Sunday.

Reuters news agency cited four Egyptian security sources as saying the border crossing was opened. The French AFP news agency and local Egyptian media also reported that the crossing had reopened on Sunday.

Limited evacuations via the Rafah border crossing, possible since November 1, have been halted twice due to bombardments.

Russia has begun to evacuate its citizens from Gaza with the first batch of over 60 Russian passport holders crossing into Egypt, Reuters reported.

"At the moment, citizens of the Russian Federation who wish to leave the conflict zone are crossing the checkpoint," Russia's Emergencies Ministry said, adding that ministry specialists were providing them with medical and psychological assistance, as well as food and water.

Russian media suggested some 1,000 Russian nationals have expressed a wish to leave the strip.

Polish officials have also started evacuating their citizens on Sunday. Jacek Siewiera, the head of Poland's National Bureau of Security said on social media that the first Polish citizens to be evacuated from Gaza have crossed the border into Egypt.

"The process has begun. The Air Force, as ordered by the Polish president, is ready to carry out the transport," Siewiera said.

Reuters cited Siewiera as saying 18 Polish citizens had been evacuated. He added that the evacuation efforts were facilitated by Qatar, Israel and Egypt.

Siewiera confirmed that the Rafah crossing was reopened for foreigners' evacuations, after disruptions over the past few days.

Reuters also reported that seven injured Palestinians had been taken to Egypt and that at least 80 aid trucks had passed from Egypt into Gaza.

Many of these figures could not be independently verified due to the complicated situation on the ground.

Palestinians with foreign passports waiting to cross the Rafah Border Gate earlier in the month
Small numbers of people trapped in Gaza have been crossing through the Rafah Border Gate since Israel began its bombardment of the enclaveImage: Abed Rahim Khatib/anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section Evacuating patients is like 'issuing a death certificate,' WHO official says
November 12, 2023

Evacuating patients is like 'issuing a death certificate,' WHO official says

Any attempt to evacuate patients from Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza would be akin to "issuing a death certificate" to these patients, said Ahmed al-Mandhari, the World Health Organization's regional director told DW on Sunday.

Mandhari was responding to statements by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari, who announced a day before that Israel would help evacuate babies trapped in Al-Shifa hospital. 

The announcement followed reports that at least two premature babies died when the neonatal intensive care unit stopped working because of the lack of power.

"There is no place safe in Gaza. All places in Gaza are under direct attacks by the Israeli forces. All healthcare facilities are under attack by the forces as well as the surrounding of these facilities. Evacuating patients from the hospital is like issuing a death certificate."

The WHO director also said it was very difficult to move patients receiving treatment, especially children and those on ventilators. He reiterated that would be like "issuing a premature death certificate for them because it is not possible to move them from the machines that are keeping them alive."

"I don't know on what basis Israeli forces are saying they are communicating with the staff in the hospital asking them to evacuate. It is unfair to evacuate patients from this hospital."

Mandhari also refuted the IDF spokesman's statement, denying a siege on the hospital.

"There is no way to get patients or staff or even those who are sheltering themselves in the hospital to leave the hospital because of the insecurity and direct attacks of the surrounding area," he said.

Skip next section UNDP 'deeply distressed' by reports of its compound being shelled
November 12, 2023

UNDP 'deeply distressed' by reports of its compound being shelled

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said it was "deeply distressed" by preliminary reports of a shelling of the UN compound in Gaza city, believed to have resulted in deaths and injuries.

In a statement late on Saturday, the UNDP said its Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People had managed the complex until October 13, when UN staff vacated the premises.

The UNDP had reported on November 6 that several hundred people seeking refuge had entered the compound. It said on Saturday there were indications the number "increased significantly" since.

"The ongoing tragedy of death and injury to civilians ensnared in this conflict is unacceptable and must stop," the UNDP said.

It stressed the need to respect and protect civilians, civilian infrastructure and UN facilities at all times. It also called for respecting and upholding international humanitarian law.

Skip next section More than 280 Germans have left Gaza, says foreign office
November 12, 2023

More than 280 Germans have left Gaza, says foreign office

The German Foreign Office on Sunday said more than 280 Germans and their relatives have left the Gaza Strip in the past few days on social media platform X. 

The office also added it is working to ensure that all German passport holders who wish to leave the region are able to do so.

In the last two weeks, foreigners have been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip for Egypt. Palestinian officials said about 600 foreigners and Palestinians with dual citizenship were allowed to leave on Friday alone.

Skip next section Australian Foreign Minister Wong calls for cease-fire in Gaza
November 12, 2023

Australian Foreign Minister Wong calls for cease-fire in Gaza

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was "deeply concerned" by the destruction in Gaza, in an interview with ABC News on Sunday.

"We call for humanitarian pauses as a necessary first step. We all want to take the next steps towards a cease-fire. But it cannot be one-sided," she said.

"While we affirm Israel's right to defend itself, what we are also saying is Israel must comply with international humanitarian law," she added. 

Wong stressed that Hamas is a terrorist organization but Israel is a democracy like Australia, and should be held up to higher standards.

Wong also called upon Israelto protect civilians and refrain from attacking hospitals. She said a two-state solution and Palestinians and Israelis living within internationally recognized borders was the only pathway for "just and enduring peace."

Skip next section IDF strikes targets in Syria after fire at Golan Heights
November 12, 2023

IDF strikes targets in Syria after fire at Golan Heights

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military said on Sunday that fighter jets carried out strikes against "terror infrastructure" targets inside Syria in response to cross-border fire directed at the Golan Heights.

"A short while ago, in response to the attack toward the Golan Heights yesterday (Saturday), IDF (Israel Defense Forces) fighter jets struck terror infrastructure sites in Syria," the military said on Telegram.

Two projectiles fired from Syria had landed in uninhabited parts of the Golan Heights, and rocket alert sirens had sounded in the region, the army said.

The IDF also said it struck targets in Syria after a drone from there crashed into a school in the town of Eilat. Cross-border fire has also been exchanged along Israel's front with Lebanon.

Israel had occupied parts of the Golan Heights in the Six Day War of 1967, and later annexed it in a move that was not recognized by the UN.

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